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  1. #1
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Itís Time to End the Politicization of Cycling

    For some reason, cycling has become politicized. If you ride a bike or are in favor of making your community more bike and pedestrian friendly, people assume you must be some kind of a liberal freak.

    Far from the truth.

    Though there is some conjecture about how this came to be Ė perhaps itís because the original ISTEA bill funding bike accommodations was sponsored by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1991? Who knows.

    Read the full article:
    http://www.vabike.org/politicization-of-cycling/

  2. #2
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Where it comes from is the notion that it is somehow anti-American to not drive...

    "Cycling is European" somehow goes the thinking of some rather close-minded individuals... never mind that using foreign oil to power your "smog belching rolling living room" really does help fund terrorism.

    Funny how some never quite get the connection.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
    For some reason, cycling has become politicized. If you ride a bike or are in favor of making your community more bike and pedestrian friendly, people assume you must be some kind of a liberal freak.

    Far from the truth.

    Though there is some conjecture about how this came to be – perhaps it’s because the original ISTEA bill funding bike accommodations was sponsored by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1991? Who knows.

    Read the full article:
    http://www.vabike.org/politicization-of-cycling/
    Cycling has been the subject of political controversy since about 1944, then the law decided that bicycles were not vehicles and therefore that their use could be restricted, through restrictive laws, in ways that would be intolerable to those in political power, the motorists. Some cyclists recognized that obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles was better for them than obeying the restrictive laws, so there was a political controversy between two groups of road users, motorists and cyclists. However, while this was a political controversy, it was very lowkey and was confined to the actual traffic operating subject, because the motorists believed that nearly all cycling was juvenile and insignificant.

    The "bike boom" that started in the 1960s caused motorists to recognize that adult cycling had not died. They decided, in California in 1971, to crack down on cyclists by creating a bikeway system that would force all cyclists to obey the restrictive laws (and new ones also). That sharpened the political conflict between motorists and cyclists.

    Shortly after the motorists created the bikeway system designs, cycling became extremely political. Groups with any kind of agenda that could conceivably be tied to anti-motoring (oil crisis, air pollution, suburbia, road building, car manufacture, obesity, national defense, you've seen them all) jumped into the controversy on the side of the motorists. They chose to support the motorists' side of the bikeway controversy because they believed the motorists' lying propaganda that bikeways made cycling safe for incompetent cyclists. So, ever since 1975 bicycle transportation has been the field for intense political activity conducted by interests outside the field of cycling.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    I agree, but it's not going to happen. Even the fact that roads need to be repaved has now become a political issue, what with one party insisting that we no longer fund our transportation infrastructure. What hope can we possibly have of building bike lanes if we can't even get them to agree to roads in the first place?

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Where it comes from is the notion that it is somehow anti-American to not drive...

    "Cycling is European" somehow goes the thinking of some rather close-minded individuals... never mind that using foreign oil to power your "smog belching rolling living room" really does help fund terrorism.
    I usually don't hear "European" from the haters. They tend to prefer to claim that it's like China, because their agenda is to equate cycling with being poor and living under a totalitarian government. Calling it "European" is not negative enough for them.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Of course, the same thing is true of climate change, evolution, history, medicine, ...
    Don't believe everything you think.

  7. #7
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Hmmm...I don't see as that politicized in my day to day rides and breaks in coffee shops and diners. Most people know I use my bike or walk to save on gas and auto wear and tear; as well as for health reasons. On my long rides i think most touring people will say ya get OOHS! and AHHHHS! when ya talk to folks about how far ya have gone. Its just that the liberal freaks who want gas at $10 a gallon dominate the debate and are the front face of cycling in the news media.
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billdsd View Post
    I usually don't hear "European" from the haters. They tend to prefer to claim that it's like China, because their agenda is to equate cycling with being poor and living under a totalitarian government. Calling it "European" is not negative enough for them.
    East coast / west coast thing. Here on the west coast, we hear the China thing, on the other coast or with certain political bent, it is a "liberal European thing."

    Either way, it is just yet another excuse.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billdsd View Post
    I usually don't hear "European" from the haters. They tend to prefer to claim that it's like China, because their agenda is to equate cycling with being poor and living under a totalitarian government. Calling it "European" is not negative enough for them.
    I'm surprised you get that sophisticated of an answer. Usually here it's "gay", and that's as far as the conversation goes. "Dude, biking is gay", or "you look stupid".

    Truly, they have a dizzying intellect.

  10. #10
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    i like this article -

    tom bowden, how to talk about bicycling to a conservative

    Tom's got some good fodder in there...

    Quote Originally Posted by how to talk about cycling to a conservative
    Cycling saves money, saves lives and makes us stronger as individuals and as a nation. Spending money to support cycling is like putting money in the bank–it pays big dividends at low risk. It’s as all American as Mom’s apple pie.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 10-12-11 at 01:49 PM.

  11. #11
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Most cyclists in Texas are Republicans, according to what I've heard (from the advocacy group Bike Texas). Among the cyclists themselves it not so much of a political issue. Outside the cycling community, to make any changes to laws you need the political process, and the left more readily supports that (although, again, here in Texas there is reasonable support from the right as well). Our new mayor in Fort Worth is a 20+ year bike commuting Republican.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    Two points:

    1. ANY activity that is going to affect the lifestyles of a NOTICEABLE percentage of the population cannot help but become political. Acceptance of cycling as transportation is an effort that will affect the daily lives of 100 million people, in one way or another.

    2. The 'politicizing' of cycling is due to the hot-potato, argument point/counterpoint that results from the expression of (sometimes) ignorant opinions. It's an issue that polarizes because people have become one-issue, knee-jerk fanatics to their personal points of view. If a person is against taxing the rich, he/she becomes a 'fellow' with Boehner and Cantor, regardless of any disagreement on other issues. . . until those other divisive issues become known.

    People just HAVE to categorize and pigeonhole............

    My transportational cycling has nothing to do with my political views, it has 100% to do with the FACT that I love to pedal!

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester View Post
    Cycling has been the subject of political controversy since about 1944, then the law decided that bicycles were not vehicles and therefore that their use could be restricted, through restrictive laws, in ways that would be intolerable to those in political power, the motorists. Some cyclists recognized that obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles was better for them than obeying the restrictive laws, so there was a political controversy between two groups of road users, motorists and cyclists. However, while this was a political controversy, it was very lowkey and was confined to the actual traffic operating subject, because the motorists believed that nearly all cycling was juvenile and insignificant.

    The "bike boom" that started in the 1960s caused motorists to recognize that adult cycling had not died. They decided, in California in 1971, to crack down on cyclists by creating a bikeway system that would force all cyclists to obey the restrictive laws (and new ones also). That sharpened the political conflict between motorists and cyclists.

    Shortly after the motorists created the bikeway system designs, cycling became extremely political. Groups with any kind of agenda that could conceivably be tied to anti-motoring (oil crisis, air pollution, suburbia, road building, car manufacture, obesity, national defense, you've seen them all) jumped into the controversy on the side of the motorists. They chose to support the motorists' side of the bikeway controversy because they believed the motorists' lying propaganda that bikeways made cycling safe for incompetent cyclists. So, ever since 1975 bicycle transportation has been the field for intense political activity conducted by interests outside the field of cycling.
    One of the perks of BF membership is reading about this topic from a man who was not only an eyewitness, but probably did the most to politicize cycling. It's very interesting to read your take on it, even if i don't particularly agree with you. Thanks for taking the time!


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  14. #14
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
    For some reason, cycling has become politicized. If you ride a bike or are in favor of making your community more bike and pedestrian friendly, people assume you must be some kind of a liberal freak.

    Far from the truth.

    Though there is some conjecture about how this came to be – perhaps it’s because the original ISTEA bill funding bike accommodations was sponsored by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1991? Who knows.

    Read the full article:
    http://www.vabike.org/politicization-of-cycling/
    In the same way the assumption here is addressed, should also be used to address the assumption that anyone riding their bike legally, on the road does not have a genuine reason for going somewhere by bike instead of in a four-wheel monument to OPEC.

  15. #15
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    Two points:

    1. ANY activity that is going to affect the lifestyles of a NOTICEABLE percentage of the population cannot help but become political. Acceptance of cycling as transportation is an effort that will affect the daily lives of 100 million people, in one way or another.

    2. The 'politicizing' of cycling is due to the hot-potato, argument point/counterpoint that results from the expression of (sometimes) ignorant opinions. It's an issue that polarizes because people have become one-issue, knee-jerk fanatics to their personal points of view. If a person is against taxing the rich, he/she becomes a 'fellow' with Boehner and Cantor, regardless of any disagreement on other issues. . . until those other divisive issues become known.

    People just HAVE to categorize and pigeonhole............

    My transportational cycling has nothing to do with my political views, it has 100% to do with the FACT that I love to pedal!
    The irony is that the end effect (mentioned in your item 1) is likely to positively affect that group of 100 million, but the reaction of that 100 million is to oppose any change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    One of the perks of BF membership is reading about this topic from a man who was not only an eyewitness, but probably did the most to politicize cycling. It's very interesting to read your take on it, even if i don't particularly agree with you. Thanks for taking the time!
    Thank you for the recognition, Roody. However, I think that I did little to politicize bicycle transportation. It is true that I opposed the motoring establishment's program for incompetent cycling on bikeways, but that was an argument entirely within the highway transportation field. It was limited to the difference between obeying the rules of the road for drivers of vehicles and obeying the anti-cyclist program created by the motoring establishment, and it concerned only the welfare of cyclists. The politicization occurred when people with outside interests jumped in to promote the motorists' bikeways in the belief that bikeways would advance their agendas for goals outside of bicycle transportation.

  17. #17
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    good thing THAT'S all run its course.


    The current problem with the politicization of bicycling at the federal level is a continued funding crisis, rescissions, and the threat of removing transportation enhancements funds or otherwise funneling them away from bicycling and active transportation projects to fix infrastructure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    good thing THAT'S all run its course.


    The current problem with the politicization of bicycling at the federal level is a continued funding crisis, rescissions, and the threat of removing transportation enhancements funds or otherwise funneling them away from bicycling and active transportation projects to fix infrastructure.
    It's quite understandable that Bek is upset because the motoring establishment has started to consider that it has better ways to spend its money than its anti-cyclist program of incompetent cycling on bikeways, the program that Bek desires so strongly.

  19. #19
    Senior Member DeadheadSF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billdsd View Post
    their agenda is to equate cycling with being poor and living under a totalitarian government.
    Well... looking around at the current state of affairs here in the good ol' Yew Ess Ay, we're not far off...
    What a looooooooooooooooooong strange trip it's been...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    i like this article -

    tom bowden, how to talk about bicycling to a conservative

    Tom's got some good fodder in there...
    Good post, great article, agree with most of it. As someone who is one gun collection to the right of Attilla the Hun, I find cycling's connection with global warming alarmism and progressive politics to be a buzz kill. I now realize that I had unconsciously avoided cycling for years because I had associated it with leftism. Dumb of me.

    Of course, I can't agree that spending public money to support cycling or any other non-essential item pays dividends, except to a particular bureaucracy and its vested constituency -- but I know I'm in the lunatic fringe.

  21. #21
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    oh, it's dividends like 'greater public health', 'improved senior mobility', 'lessened childhood onset diabetes', 'lower cost maintaining the roads', 'better air quality' those types of things.

    It's cheaper for communities than planning everyone drive everywhere, and pays a multitude of dividends.

  22. #22
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here View Post
    Of course, I can't agree that spending public money to support cycling or any other non-essential item pays dividends, except to a particular bureaucracy and its vested constituency -- but I know I'm in the lunatic fringe.
    Cycling is certainly essential to me. I don't own a car. I use a bike to get to work, shopping, entertainment, doctor appointments, and almost everywhere else I go. IMO, bikes are the best transportation mode in my area.


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  23. #23
    Senior Member No Whey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Forester View Post
    They chose to support the motorists' side of the bikeway controversy because they believed the motorists' lying propaganda that bikeways made cycling safe for incompetent cyclists.
    That and that it was a much larger constituency probably helped too.
    Why back a proposition with very little public support?
    People would rather compromise and point to the gains, rather than lose completely and be righteously indignant.

    Promote the benefits of cycling, and meanwhile the market determines if the value exceeds that of motoring.
    Hidden costs can be exposed and hidden benefits extolled, but those don't have as much sway as social acceptance and convenience, despite the greater costs.

    On the other hand, we politicize healthful eating habits.
    So what's the difference? Crunchy granola is attributed to wealthy conservatives or not?
    (I'm not stating that crunchy granola is a healthful food.)

    Personally I find cycling far more beneficial (greater distances traveled, increased trip count, more fun had) if I can use the roadways. So I do that.

    Just saw this, JF and thought of you:http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post13355838
    Last edited by No Whey; 10-13-11 at 11:13 AM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Cycling is certainly essential to me. I don't own a car. I use a bike to get to work, shopping, entertainment, doctor appointments, and almost everywhere else I go. IMO, bikes are the best transportation mode in my area.
    I should clarify -- what I meant is that it is not essential for the government to spend public money in order for you to engage in cycling.

    The whole "the government should spend money on <insert pet cause here> because we will save money / receive benefits" is a sham to me. I've watched government spending drastically increase as a percentage of GDP over my entire life, and believe it will continue to do so until we collapse. I'm aware of no historical precedent to the contrary.

  25. #25
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here View Post
    I should clarify -- what I meant is that it is not essential for the government to spend public money in order for you to engage in cycling.

    The whole "the government should spend money on <insert pet cause here> because we will save money / receive benefits" is a sham to me. I've watched government spending drastically increase as a percentage of GDP over my entire life, and believe it will continue to do so until we collapse. I'm aware of no historical precedent to the contrary.
    And where exactly would this country be if the government had never built our highway system? Do you really believe that anybody besides government could have or would have built I-94? Then why should the free market system be responsible for building bicycle infrastructure? Government is the most effective and most efficient provider of infrastructure for the common good. And yes, IMO bicycle infrastructure is for the common good.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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